Today I had one of those interesting days, the kind when it all sort of flows and time bends softly and warmly around the looking glass, the kind that feels somehow touched by the Divine yet is sort of emotionally exhausting in that same way. This morning I blogged on the Spirituality of Grief and Joy site about my many ponderings…from Jean Piaget to Buddha and CS Lewis and a bunch of other stuff… and at the time it even seemed to make sense 😉
Tonight I’m thinking of Rumi and oddly enough, the Buddhist sense of the 8 Worldly Dharmas. The 8 Worldly Dharmas are: praise and blame; pleasure and pain; fame and disgrace; gain and loss. Buddhism basically says that these become our attachments and aversions in life– we want the ones we enjoy or make us feel good. Therefore we constantly seek something outside of ourselves to hold onto the feelings we like and avoid the ones we don’t. This creates a cycle in which we are forever caught in the wheel of life, trying to have pleasure, praise, fame and gain, seeking an ever elusive happiness, because the things we view as the opposites are always there as well.
Our whole culture–nay, our whole economy– is based on the search for these things. This frightens me somewhat. We are led to believe that if we have the newest shiny whizbang or the right car or the right mate or the right beer or the right whatever, then–Finally! you can be happy. And as humans we fall for that, over and over and over again. But then that changes too, and the new whizbang goes out of style, the nifty new phone becomes a dinosaur in a few months, the kids go to school or the person you love dies or the job you thought would be so good falls apart. And then, there we are, back into what is viewed as the opposite, the “bad” feelings, the aversions and the pain.
This happens to all of us at some point, and there are so many choices. But one of the choices is to look in the mirror and ask some hard questions, like… So now what? Who am I without my stuff, my comforts, my stories, my attachments, my distractions, my toys? Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist teacher, said, “As humans we are always running after something— some pleasure, some reward, some way to avoid pain. But here’s the real $64, 000 question–when all of that is over, how much have you ever really connected with yourself in your whole life?”
So I was thinking this morning in the spirituality blog about Piaget and object permanence and how much trivial stuff is held in the gray matter between my ears, and that led to Buddha and the 8 Worldly Dharmas, which then led me to think of this Rumi poem…
Why cling to one life
Till it is soiled and ragged?
The sun dies and dies
Squandering a hundred lives
God has decreed a life for you
And He will give you
another and another and another and another….
So tonight, I am thinking of many things, watching it all sort of spin by, lazy on its axis, watching it pass through in the most interesting of ways…I ponder the $64, 000 question and think of worldly dharmas of pleasure and pain, attachments and aversions and all of the many ways in which they disguise themselves. I love Rumi’s take on the clinging, somehow understanding that it is in the letting go, it’s the fall into the soft spots of the heart and soul that bring us to new life. It’s not just about who you are, but who you are becoming, and if you are OK with that. And, like the child crying “do it again!” to a fun silly grown up trick, the sun will rise tomorrow and we get to choose all over again. And how cool is that? Always another chance to accompany the changes in life.
So tonight I ponder this garden party of philosophers and poets, and I thank them for their contributions to my life and soul. And I offer thanks for all the changes and chances to do it again. And on that note, I’m off to practice the $64,000 question.